Many people plan their estates diligently, with input from legal, tax, and financial professionals. Others plan earnestly but make mistakes that can potentially affect both the transfer and destiny of family wealth. Here are some common and not-so-common errors to avoid.
While you could write your own will or create a will, it can be risky to do so. Sometimes simplicity has a price. Look at the example of Aretha Franklin. The “Queen of Soul’s” estate, valued at $80 million, may be divided under a handwritten or “holographic” will. Her wills were discovered among her personal effects. Assuming that the will is authentic, it will be probated under Michigan law, but such unwitnessed documents are not necessarily legally binding.
Relatively few estate plans are reviewed over time. Any major life event should prompt you to review your will, trust, or other estate planning documents. So should a major life event that affects one of your beneficiaries.
Trust administration is not for everyone. Some people lack the interest, the time, or the understanding it requires, and others balk at the responsibility and potential liability. A co-trustee also introduces the potential for conflict.
While you may not want to explicitly reveal who will get what prior to your passing, your heirs should understand the purpose and intentions at the heart of your estate planning. If you want to distribute more of your wealth to one child than another, write a letter to be presented after your death that explains your reasoning. Make a list of which heirs will receive collectibles or heirlooms. If your family has some issues, this may go a long way toward reducing squabbles as well as the possibility of legal costs eating up some of this-or-that heir’s inheritance.
Through a simple, one-sentence title change, a married couple can fund a revocable trust with their primary residence. As an example, if a couple retitles their home from “Heather and Michael Smith, Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship” to “Heather and Michael Smith, Trustees of the Smith Revocable Trust dated (month)(day), (year).” They are free to retitle myriad other assets in the trust’s name.
Very few people consider this possibility when creating a will or trust, but it does happen. A caregiver harboring a hidden agenda may exploit a loved one to the point where they revise estate planning documents for the caregiver’s financial benefit.
The best estate plans are clear in their language, clear in their intentions, and updated as life events demand. They are overseen through the years with care and scrutiny, reflecting the magnitude of the transfer of significant wealth.
Applications for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are now open for the academic year 2021-22. Applying for the FAFSA allows you to qualify for grants, scholarships, and other federally-sourced aid, such as work-study or student loans. The applications opened on October 1, 2020, and will be accepted until the deadline, June 30, … Continue reading “FAFSA Applications Open”
America’s debt is now nearly as large as its economy. On September 2, the Congressional Budget Office announced that by the end of the 2020 fiscal year (September 30), the federal government is projected to owe debt equaling 98% of the nation’s gross domestic product.
It should come as no surprise to hear the economy is the top issue for voters in the 2020 election. Nearly 8 in ten voters say that the economy will be very important to them when they cast their votes at the ballot box in just over two weeks.
When training to become a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®, much of our course work centers on the six critical areas of creating a financial strategy. Some recognize October as Financial Planning Month, so it’s an excellent opportunity to review those six personal finance areas.
With one year ending and a new one on the cusp of starting, many people will consider their resolutions—not their estate planning strategy. But the end of the year is a great time to sit down and review your preparations, especially when you’re spending more time with your loved ones; even more important if you … Continue reading “Estate Planning Strategies for Year-End”
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